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Small-Scale DAB+ on Air in Winchester

South East England city gains 18 new digital channels, including the first DAB operations for two local non-commercial services

The DAB+ launch event for Winchester Today. From left: Ash Elford, UK DAB Networks; Kevin Gover, Winchester Today; Steve Brine, member of Parliament for Winchester and Chandler’s Ford; and Derek Green, mayor of Winchester. (Photo courtesy MP Brine)

The new Winchester small-scale DAB multiplex is on air with 18 new digital services for the city and surrounding parts of Hampshire county, England. It is the first small-scale DAB+ multiplex launched by UK DAB Networks.

A public event was held on Oct. 8, 2022, to mark the launch of Winchester Today, one of the 18 new digital radio services from the multiplex.

The new station is affiliated with local community newspaper, also called Winchester Today, which launched an online radio service in 2020.

“After two years of hard work I still can’t quite believe my eyes in seeing ‘Winchester Today’ scrolling across my DAB+ radio screen,” said Winchester Today Managing Editor Kevin Grover.

Winchester Today joins Winchester Radio as one of the stations on the multiplex operating with an Ofcom community digital sound programme (C-DSP) license. C-DSPs are a new category of license established for non-profit local broadcasters.

“Winchester Radio has come a long way since we launched as a hospital radio station in 1984,” stated Anna O’Brien of Winchester Radio. “We launched our community radio service in 2019, and more recently supported UK DAB Networks’ bid for the Winchester small-scale DAB multiplex. We are thrilled to now be able to extend our service in digital quality to support more people across a wider area.”

UK DAB Networks noted that small-scale DAB+ multiplexes open up digital radio for the first time to a variety of local, charitable and small businesses.

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“It has always been important to me that digital radio was accessible to all broadcasters of all types. By having something for everyone, digital radio will be able to thrive,” stated UK DAB Networks Managing Director Ash Elford. “Winchester has a special place in my heart, having lived and worked in the city. This multiplex has a great line-up of services and very good coverage.”

Other broadcasters on the new multiplex include local FM station B Radio, local DAB dance music station Outreach Dance, and Southampton-based community station Awaaz Radio. National brands on the multiplex include three Nation Radio decades stations, along with Nation Hits; three Like Radio brands; Great British Radio; Swinging Radio 60s; Tomorrowland’s One World Radio; 80s Rhythm; News Radio UK; and Christmas Radio. Three additional service — Fiesta FM, Skyline Gold and Voice FM — will be added in the coming weeks.

Ali Beg of Awaaz Radio stated that “It is an exciting time for Winchester and the ethnic minorities of the city. Working together we can now ensure that the under-represented groups are recognized and more visible…. Watch out for some really different and exciting programs!”

The new multiplex began operations on Sept. 29, 2022, from the Crabwood Farm transmission site west of Winchester. UK DAB Networks plans to launch a second small-scale multiplex in Basingstoke, England, in November.